Summary: How to we overcome our fears with respect to reaching out to others?
In order to take the Great Commandment seriously, we must be willing to love those who God has placed around us. It’s not always going to be pretty, but it is going to be significant.
Review the Block Map and the Art of Neighboring Strategy.
Encourage everyone to host or be part of a neighborhood gathering within the next 3 months.
Connection Groups could have a party at someone’s house and they could invite their neighbors.
Folks can go to our website to learn more and find resources for how to do a block party at fbcportales.org/the-art-of-neighboring.
In many ways, neighboring is scarier than going on a global mission trip, because your neighbors are always going to be there. But Jesus has called us to engage in the messiness of relationships; and that can be scary. No doubt, fear is something we must overcome if we are going to reach out to others, especially our neighbors.
Here’s a quick quiz question: What is the opposite of “fear”?
You might answer, “courage.” That sounds right, but according to Scripture the opposite of fear is faith. When the disciples were afraid in a storm, Jesus didn’t question their courage, but their faith.
“Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” - Mark 4:40 (NIV)
In fact, when you think about it, courage is really faith on display; just like worry and anxiety is fear on display. When a soldier is courageous on the battlefield, for example, it is because of their faith in their cause, faith in their fellow soldiers, faith in themselves, faith in their training, or yes, faith in God. But they are courageous because of faith.
One of my favorite scenes in the movie “Gods and Generals” is where Stonewall Jackson is asked by his aides how it was that he could be so courageous on the battlefield, with bullets whizzing passed his head and the sound of cannon fire echoing in his ear. His answer was his faith in God. He trusted God with his life and the timing of his death. And believed God would see him through when that time came.
To be faith-full is to be fearless!
But as Stonewall Jackson testified, the greatest faith is faith in God. Faith in your friends, yourself, your training, etc. can bring courage, but it is possible that faith in my friends, myself, my training, will go unrewarded, because they can all let me down. But there is only one faith that will not go unrewarded, and that’s faith in God! You, your friends, your training, can all let you down, but God never will!
“Anyone who trusts in him will never be disappointed.” - Romans 10:11 (Easy to Read)
So let’s think about how we can overcome the fear factor through faith and trust in God. I want us to look to the example of Matthew to see how faith in God can overcome our fears. (READ TEXT)
1. Matthew’s faith was displayed by the courage to identify with Jesus publicly - v. 27
Jesus called Matthew to identify with Him publicly. And He still calls people who place their faith in Him to put it on public display. How?
A. Through baptism.
Everyone who claims to have faith in Christ as Savior should be baptized because Christ commanded it.
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.” - Matthew 28:19-20 (NLT)
Scripture indicates that my willingness to be baptized demonstrates that I really am a believer.
“. . . many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized.” - Acts 18:8 (NIV)
“We know that we have come to know Him, if we obey His commands.” - 1 John 2:3 (NIV)
Baptism doesn’t make you a believer; but it does show that you already believe. Baptism doesn’t “save” you, only your faith in Christ does that. But baptism is like a wedding ring - it’s the outward symbol of the commitment you made in your heart. Baptism is an outward expression of an inner reality. And if, through faith in Christ is an inner reality for you, your faith in Christ will give you the courage to publicly identify with Him through baptism.
B. Through fellowship.
Just as Matthew in publicly identifying with Jesus identified with His followers, we too, should publicly identify ourselves as Christ-followers by faithfully associating with God’s people.
“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” - Hebrews 10:25 (NLT)
“These people left our churches, but they never really belonged with us; otherwise they would have stayed with us. When they left, it proved that they did not belong with us.” - 1 John 2:19 (NLT)